Knowing one’s history helps avoid repeating errors made in the past and thus makes one better able to control the present and better take one’s country in a chosen direction.
The Russians, inventors of the Potemkin village, under Stalin wrote a Potemkin past for themselves themselves and therefore lost track of the present, leading to the creation and eventual collapse of one of the most evil societies the world has seen.
Lilliputin and his Teddy Bear are, of course, apples off the same tree. So what better way to get Russia off its knees and back right at the bottom of the ditch where it has been for most of its history than by re-writing recent history instead of getting down to some real thinking!
“Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the establishment of a special commission to counter attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests, the Kremlin said.”
As the process gets under way, the Russian schizos crawl out from under the woodwork as WWII is post-facto corrected, as pointed out in a recent LR post. Are we seeing preparations for a ‘perfectly reasonable’ Russian claim for similar privileges with regards to /Kaliningrad? I suspect we are.
The heroes at Novaya Gazeta, some of the last few folk capable of intelligent reason left in Russia (LR’s issue last Sunday contained welcome Western recognition of the paper), have their usual intelligent and reasoned take on this.
Russian Colonel Rehabilitates Ribbentrop
by Oleg Khlebnikov
8 June 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
An article entitled “Inventions and Falsified Evaluations of the Role of the USSR on the Eve of the Second World War” was recently published on the RF Ministry of Defence’s official website. This article was signed by the Head of the North-West Region Military History Scientific Research Department of the RF Ministry of Defence Institute of Military History, a certain Colonel Sergei Kovalyov, Candidate of Historical Sciences (TN: the apprxomiate equivalent of an MA degree in History). The main thesis of this opus is that it was Poland fault that WWII started. Strange that just Poland should be to blame – what about the Baltic countries and Finland? Writes Colonel Kovalyov: “Anyone who has studied the history of WWII in an unprejudiced manner knows that the war started because of Poland’s refusal to accede to German demands. Few, however, know what precisely A. Hitler was demanding of Warsaw. In fact, these demands were not at all onerous: to make the free city of Danzig (Gdansk) part of the Third Reich and allow the construction of an extraterritorial highway and railroad linking Eastern Prussia with Germany proper. It would be hard to describer either of these demands as without foundation.”
At this point one cannot but think with gratitude of the Japanese who are not starting a third world war despite the fact that we refuse to return their Northern Territories to them.
The good colonel proceeds to elaborate on his views about the reasons for the outbreak of WWII, describing Poland’s stubbornness and great-power ambitions: “The overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Danzig, which had been taken away from Germany under the Treaty of Versailles, were ethnic Germans and they genuinely wanted to be reunited with their historic homeland. The demand regarding the road and railroad issue was also quite natural, in particular since the lands of the “Polish corridor” separating the two Germanies would not be affected <…>. *** There should therefore have been no major difficulties when it was proposed to Poland on 24 October 1938 that it settle the Danzig and Polish Corridor problem. Poland’s response was a firm negative, as were its further responses to other German proposals. Poland, in its pursuit of great power status, had no wish to become junior partner to Germany. On 26 March 1939 Poland gave its final rejection of German demands.”
Mind you, Colonel Kovalyov does not just dish it out to Poland: “…A fair proportion of the blame for the failure to create a collective counterbalance to fascist aggression lies with the ‘lesser’ European nations. A romantic belief in the fairness of the Western democracies and their willingness to give protection, combined with some flirting with Germany, blinkered anti-Sovietism (frequently with Russophobe undertones) turned these too for a time into pawns on the world political chessboard…”
All told, Colonel Kovalyov not only justifies the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact but to all intents and purposes presents it as a triumph of Soviet diplomacy. He appears to be not the slightest bit concerned about how Russia’s near neighbours may feel about such views, this despite the fact that he claims to be a patriot of his country – which should mean, in my view, that he ought to feel concern for the interests of his country. Or am I mistaken?
The publication of Col. Kovalyov’s article was widely noticed and remarked in Russia. It therefore quickly disappeared for the Military Encyclopaedia section of the MoD website. The head of the press relations and information service of the RF MoD Alexandr Drobyshevskii (also a colonel) made a statement: “This section publishes a variety of articles, including discussion papers.” Well, at least that clarifies what sort of ‘Encyclopaedia’ we are dealing with….
The following day Chief of General Staff General Nikolai Makarov declared: “This publication […] reflects the point of view of its author but in no way reflects the official position of the Ministry of Defence.”
What is most interesting, however, is that Sergei Kovalyov’s paper can still be found on the website – in the online version of the Military-Historical Journal. It has actually been up for nearly a year, having been published in Issue 7/2008. Of even greater interest is the fact that the paper is included in the list of publications presented by the good colonel in support of his doctoral dissertation due to be defended on 11 June.
It is also worth noting that the Director of the Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences – who also happens to be a member of Russian Presidential Commission to Counter Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia’s Interests – was merely surprised by the article. In his view, “the subject is one that might be discussed at a scientific conference. A paper to counter the views expressed in it might then be written. Everything, however, should be done without hysteria or euphoria [sic], as that is not the scientific way.” Sakharov, however, did manage to add: “But to say that Poland was to blame for the outbreak of the war is, without doubt, strange.”
We on this newspaper are also all for science without hysteria but to write that Poland was practically single-handedly to blame for the outbreak of WWII is rather more than strange – in view of Poland’s losses and suffering (including at the hands of the Soviet Union’s NKVD) in this war, it is lunatic and quite disgraceful